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Oakland County to phase in curtailed government services

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Oakland County Executive David Coulter said Tuesday he expects delayed or discontinued county services to be slowly phased back in beginning next Tuesday, May 26.

Coulter said while the county has experienced downward trends in the number of virus infections, it has still recorded 8,000 positive cases and more than 900 deaths.

“We are approaching 6,000 recovered cases … but there is still much work to do,” said Coulter, who said there was a “delicate balance” to lifting work and social distancing regulations during the ongoing pandemic without jeopardizing the health of employees or the public.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter is seen inside a conference room in front of the county's flag at the Oakland County Executive office building.

Both returning employees and visitors will be required to use personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves to gain admittance to county buildings. They will also be screened and go through temperature checks.

“This will be a new normal,” said Coulter.

While county government never entirely shut down, many departments altered their services during the pandemic. Some may still permit visitation by appointment only, or in court cases, by video conferences. All jury trials have been suspended until June 22 and congregation of groups of people in any county buildings will not be permitted and social distancing practices will be required in hallways, courts and public areas.

The changes will involve the help of fewer employees, at least initially. While many employees will continue to teleconference or work from home, 200 employees have been on furlough or amended work schedules since May 4, according to William Mullan, Coulter’s spokesman. Oakland County has about 5,300 full and part-time employees.

Mullan said 47 workers have been furloughed and 153 others shifted to reduced schedules. Nearly all were employed in court-related duties, he said.

All are expected to return to full-time employment after the State Court Administrator Office lifts orders limiting court operations.

Oakland County began closing or restricting services to the public in many of its buildings on March 16.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319